Tours of Armenia
Armenia & Nagorno Karabagh Day 1/2 : Arrival in Yerevan—Welcome to Armenia! Meet your driver upon exiting from the immigration hall- look for your name on a placard. Transfer to Yerevan and check in at the Hotel of choice. Brief rest & breakfast (please note, hotel check in is after 2 pm, therefore we have to book from the previous day). Around 11:30 am start your tour of Yerevan, which will introduce you to the capital of the Republic of Armenia, with its well-designed buildings, squares and streets, open air coffee houses and wealthy museums. Drive to Republic Square, the heart of the city, a significant site for all major celebrations and the location of many impressive buildings, such as the History Museum, National Art Gallery, major ministries and the Houses of Government. Continue to the Panorama Ground affording a dramatic view of Yerevan with Mount Ararat in the background. Continue sightseeing and visit the Matenadaran Institute of Ancient Manuscripts, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which houses a superb collection of 17,000 manuscripts from the 5th to 15th centuries as well as the Genocide Memorial and Museum. After late lunch spend some time at the weekend open air crafts and arts market – the Vernisage if so wished. Day 3 : Check out after breakfast and leave for the South of Armenia. En route, visit Khor Virap Monastery - once a royal prison for the early Christians in pagan Armenia and the site from where the light of Christianity spread throughout Armenia. From here you will have a spectacular view of Mount Ararat if the clouds cooperate! Continue our drive towards Noravank Monastery (10-14th century). This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a splendid monastic complex hidden in the pictorial reddish mountains - like a brilliant white flower in the heart of the rocks. The monastery was once the home of the royal princes and a school for stonemasons. We shall stop on the main road to the South of Armenia for a brief visit of a local winery in the village of Areni and sample some of the local wines. Continue to Goris and check in at the local hotel here our home for one o/n. Day 4 : Early breakfast at the hotel and check out. Today we leave Armenia by road to Nagorno Karabagh / Artsakh. Detour to visit the Monastery of Tatev - a UNESCO World Heritage Site, en route to if not visited on previous day. Pass the border and immigration formalities and head to Shoushi for a brief sightseeing of the town: the Real Gymnasium, Persian Mosque, Ghazanchetsots Church - the See of the Bishop of Artsakh/Karabagh, and other landmarks. Next head to the capital of Stepanakert, straight to the Ministry of Foereign Affairs of NKR to register our entry visas. We then head to Armenia Hotel in Stepanakert and check in here for 2 overnights. (B/early D) Day 5 : Enjoy a full day of sightseeing around Stepanakert; start the day with a visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nagorno Karabagh/Artsakh, continue touring and visit the Gandzasar Monastery, Kachaghakaberd, and more. Overnight in Stepanakert. (B/early D) Day 6 : Check out and head back to Armenia. Visit the old megalithic settlement Zorats Karer – Armenia’s Stonehenge. Continue via the Great Silk Route through Selima Pass and stop by the oldest well-preserved Caravanserai. Head to Noradouz, and a brief (time permitting) stop by Hayravank Church on our way to Tsakhkadzor – famous spa town and winter sports center. Overnight at the Hotel Kecharis or similar here. (B/L/-) Day 7 : We continue our Hayastan- Armenia discovery. Check out and leave to visit the two churches of the Sevan Monastery on the lake peninsula, and to enjoy fresh air and the wild nature... Continue in the direction of the monasteries of Haghartsin and Goshavank. Stop briefly en route to explore the Old Dilijan historical center. Our next stop shall be in Vanadzor – we shall be hosted for a meal by a local family. Continue to Tufenkian Heritage Dzoraget Hotel for o/n. Free evening and optional dinner. (B/L/-) Day 8 : After breakfast at the hotel check out. Leave Lori region in the direction of Gyumri taking in the sights in Haghpat and Sanahin – World Heritage Sights, then onto Dilijan. Check in at the local hotel in Gyumri. After a brief rest take a short walk around the city center of once the second largest town in Armenia, which was almost fully leveled to the ground by the earthquake in 1988. Dinner and overnight here. (B/L/D) Day 9 : After our usual breakfast at the hotel check out and head back to Yerevan with brief photo stops at Dashtadem Fortress and Aruch Caravanserai and a few other sites. Our meal today shall be in Oshakan – small village where St. Mesrob Mashtots, the inventor of the Armenian alphabet (405 AD) was buried. Arrive in Yerevan and check back to your hotel. Free evening for independent activities. (B/L/-) Day 10 : Begin your day with an excursion to the Church of St. Hripsimeh Martyria and the cathedral in Echmiatsin, the seat of the Holy See where the supreme patriarch of Armenia resides. Stop at the ruins of the once magnificent Cathedral of Zvartnots. Head back to Yerevan and spend some time at the Arts & Crafts Vernisage or visit Parajanov Museum of Collages. (B/late L) Day 11 : Today we continue the touring program and head to the North-East of Yerevan to visit the Fortress and Temple of Garni, a testimony to the Greco-Roman influence and Hellenistic culture in Armenia. Next visit the medieval Monastery of Gueghard, an architectural treasure carved into a solid cliff that is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Return to hotel & visit the National Museum of Armenian History or The State Art Gallery (B/Farewell Dinner with Folk music performance) Day 12 : Bus and driver will pick you up at the hotel and transfer to the airport for final departure. End of services. Cost of the trip for group of 7-10 pax + 1 FOC TL is 2 150 USD pp in twin Sgl suppl 599 . 00 USD Quote Include: • 5 x overnight with breakfast at centrally located 3 * plus or 4* hotel in Yerevan, • 1 x overnight with breakfast at 3* hotel in Gyumri • 1 x overnight w/ breakfast at eco-friendly Dzoraget hotel in Vanadzor • 1 x overnight w/breakfast and dinner at 3* plus hotel in Tsakhkadzor • 2 x overnight w/ breakfast at local 4 * hotel in Stepanakert or Shushi • 1 x overnight w/ breakfast at local 4* hotel in Goris • Transportation and transfers with private a/c bus; • English speaking national and local guides at the museums included in the program; • Entrance & parking fees to sights and museums in the program • Mixed Meal plan as described above (with late lunch/early dinner type of main meal at about 3. 00 PM ) • Visit to winery in Areni; • Accommodation of the guide and driver at hotels when travelling out of capital; • 1 bottle of spring water or soft drink per meal; • VAT and other applicable taxes; • NKR visa Not Included: Travel insurance Air fare Armenia Visa (can be obtained on-line via e-visa or upon arrival at the a/p) Personal expenses (phone/fax, mini bar, laundry, guide and driver tips if applicable, etc) Meals not listed on itinerary, beverages, snacks, etc other services not specified above Optional Features such as : 1. Visit to cognac factory – 12 USD pp 2. Open fire pork BBQ in the grotto of Noravank – 15 USD pp 3. Rope way in Tatev – 10 USD pp o/w trip 4. Optional pre-arranged main meal at local restaurant is at 16 USD pp pm 5. Upgrade to the Marriott in Yerevan and Tsakhkadzor is 290 USD pp in dbl/dbl (subject to availability) ******************************************************** Armenian Christmas Tour Preamble "Armenian Christmas," as it is popularly called, is a culmination of celebrations of events related to Christ's Incarnation. Theophany or Epiphany (or Astvatz-a-haytnootyoon in Armenian) means "revelation of God," which is the central theme of the Christmas Season in the Armenian Church. During the "Armenian Christmas" season, the major events that are celebrated are the Nativity of Christ in Bethlehem and His Baptism in the River Jordan. The day of this major feast in the Armenian Church is January 6th. A ceremony called "Blessing of Water" is conducted in the Armenian Church to commemorate Christ's Baptism. It is frequently asked as to why Armenians do not celebrate Christmas on December 25th with the rest of the world. Obviously, the exact date of Christ's birth has not been historically established-it is neither recorded in the Gospels. However, historically, all Christian churches celebrated Christ's birth on January 6th until the fourth century. According to Roman Catholic sources, the date was changed from January 6th to December 25th in order to override a pagan feast dedicated to the birth of the Sun which was celebrated on December 25th. At the time Christians used to continue their observance of these pagan festivities. In order to undermine and subdue this pagan practice, the church hierarchy designated December 25th as the official date of Christmas and January 6th as the feast of Epiphany. However, Armenia was not affected by this change for the simple fact that there were no such pagan practices in Armenia, on that date, and the fact that the Armenian Church was not a satellite of the Roman Church. Thus, remaining faithful to the traditions of their forefathers, Armenians have continued to celebrate Christmas on January 6th until today. The Fast of Holy Nativity starts on the evening of December 29th and ends on the Christmas Eve. The Christmas Eve meal is called khetoum 'Խթում'. It often includes dishes such as rice, fish, noovik 'նուվիկ' (green chard and chick peas) and yogurt/wheat soup called tanapour 'թանապուր'. Desserts includes dried fruits and nuts, including rojik (whole shelled walnuts threaded on a string and encased in grape jelly), pastukh (a paper-like dessert made of grape jelly, cornstarch and flour). This lighter menu is designed to ease the stomach off the week-long fast and prepare it for the rather more substantial Christmas Day dinner. Children take presents of fruits, nuts, and other candies to older relatives. Santa Claus Kaghand Papik / Kaghand Papa traditionally come on New Year's Eve (December 31st) because Christmas Day itself is thought of as more of a religious holiday in Armenia. In Armenian Happy New Year/Merry Christmas is Shnorhavor Amanor yev Surb Tznund (Շնորհավոր Ամանոր և Սուրբ Ծնունդ) (which means 'Congratulations for the New Year and Holy Birth') At the beginning of December a big Christmas Tree (Tonatsar) is put up in Republic Square in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. All Armenian churches serve holy liturgy and light candles. People take the candles and the lights from churches to their homes, thus symbolically bring the divine light and blessing of the church. When making toast at the late dinner table they say these words and congratulate to each other: “Qristos tzinav yev haytnetsav” (Christ is born and revealed among us) Perhaps it makes sense to mention here that 70 years of Soviet era have had a great impact on the traditional ways of celebrating Christmas as the Communists, who were atheists in their beliefs, fought fiercely against Christian Faith, thus forbidding Christmas and encouraging lavish celebration of New Year as a replacement. Therefore most Armenians lay lavish tables on New Year’s Eve and celebrate it with a lot of food: khozi bood (glazed ham) and lots of meat products leave little chance for the believers determined to fast. New Year’s Eve and the following 3 days are a period of paying courtesy visits to relatives, respected friends, colleges and seating at the table and tasting the plentiful food… In conclusion, I’d like to make the following statement: no matter when and where we celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ, the entire essence of the feast should lie there in our hearts which should be as pure as His birth. Let’s all enjoy His blessings forever! “Shnorhavor Soorb Tsnund” (which means ‘Congratulations for the Holy Birth’) BRIEF PROGRAMME Day 1 – arrival, meet your guide upon exit from immigration and transfer to hotel. Check in and leisure Day 2 – Full day of sightseeing in Yerevan and its museums. Optional participation in the “Candle Light – CHRAGAVAROUTYUN service late in the evening. Day 3 – Christmas Liturgy in the Mother Cathedral in Etchmiatsin Day 4, 5, 6 - Check out and leave Yerevan for Jermuk. Visit Khor Virap and Noravank en route to Jermuk Da5 - Full day of wellness and rest Day 6 – Jermuk-Selim Pass – Sevan – Tsakhkadzor Day 7 – Full day at leisure /skiing Day 8 – Visit Peninsula of the lake Sevan, continue to Dilijan (the Switzerland of Armenia) to visit Monastery of Haghartsin. Day 9 - Visit Garni and Gueghard (weather permitting) . A’capella concert in Gueghard. Farewell dinner at Old Erevan Tavern Day 10 – final departure Tour cost pp in dbl room for groups of 10-12 pax - $1 698. -- Sgl suppl - $ 490. – pp The above price is inclusive of: 1/. Shared accommodation (check in 14:00 / check out before 12 : 00 ) 2/. Daily breakfast at the hotels of stay 3/. 15 main meals p/p 4/. 1 bottle (0.5 l) of mineral water or soft drink per person per meal 5/. coffee/tea served after each main meal 6/. Mercedes Sprinter a/c mini bus for transfers and excursions 7/. All entrance and parking fees 8/. A’capella performance 9/. Small petty tips with included meals at the restaurant 10/. All local taxes applicable Price Excludes: 1/. Flight /train tickets 2/. Travel insurance 3/. Armenia entry visa 4/. Professional ESG 5/. Other services and expenses of personal nature, including but not limited to such as extra bottled water, alcoholic drinks, mini bar, laundry, fax/internet, driver and national guide tips - if applicable, etc.